Wendy Hui Kyong Chun
This talk explores the potential of ephemerals through artworks that make things disappear. New media, like the computer technology on which it relies, races simultaneously towards the future and the past, towards the bleeding edge of obsolescence. The slipperiness of new media—the difficulty of engaging it in the present—is linked to the speed of its dissemination. Also key to the digital as the new is a rhetorical conflation of memory and storage. Memory, with its constant degeneration, does not equal storage; although artificial memory has historically combined the transitory with the permanent, the passing with the stable, digital media complicates this relationship by making the permanent into an enduring ephemeral.
In a Glass Hour is a series devoted to exploring the topic of time from the diverse perspectives of media theorists, scientists, artists, historians, journalists and others. Taking a broadly interdisciplinary approach to this singular subject, the series will point to the elasticity of this pervasive topic.
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is Associate Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. She has studied both Systems Design Engineering and English Literature, which she combines and mutates in her current work on digital media. She is author of Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (MIT, 2006), and co-editor of New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader (Routledge, 2006). She has been a visiting professor in the History of Science at Harvard, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard and a Wriston Fellow at Brown. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Critical Inquiry, differences, and new formations. She is currently completing a monograph entitled Programmed Visions: Software, DNA, Race (forthcoming MIT, 2010).